Scots authors set up auction to help disabled boy

Baxter, now three-years-old, pictured in 2012. Picture: Hemedia

Baxter, now three-years-old, pictured in 2012. Picture: Hemedia

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TWO SCOTS authors are auctioning off the chance to be immortalised as characters in their forthcoming novels in order to help a disabled boy ‘trapped’ on the ninth floor of a block of flats in Aberdeen.

Fans of Christopher Brookmyre will be able to bid on Friday for the chance to lend their name to a character in the author’s latest novel featuring the popular investigative journalist Jack Parlabane.

Baxter with mother Ailsa Dick, pictured in 2012. Picture: Hemedia

Baxter with mother Ailsa Dick, pictured in 2012. Picture: Hemedia

Stuart MacBride, the author of the popular series of novels featuring detective Logan McRae, raised £1,000 in February when he auctioned off a role in his forthcoming novel.

Both authors are supporting a Crowdfunder campaign set up by Julie Barkel to raise £100,000 to buy a home for her friend Ailsa Dick and her family, who for more than three years have been crushed into a two-bedroom flat on the ninth floor of a block of flats.

The couple’s three-year-old son, Baxter, who has spina bifida, scoliosis and hydrocephalus and other ailments, requires round-the-clock care and still sleeps in a cot in his parents’ bedroom as there is no room in their council flat for a specialist bed.

Ailsa Dick, her husband James, their five-year-old son Brodie, Baxter, and their newborn daughter Caledonia currently live in a two bedroom flat on the ninth floor on a tower block. The family have been waiting to be rehoused since Baxter was born, as they desperately need more space for his medical equipment and better accessibility for his wheelchair. The tower block’s lifts have broken down six times in recent months.

Mrs Dick said: “The flat isn’t adapted, we need space and storage for Baxter’s medicine and equipment, as everything comes in bulk. He needs so much equipment to help him sit, stand and bathe as he cannot do it himself. He sleeps with us in our bedroom and he’s still in a cot as there isn’t room for a specialist bed.”

The Help Baxter Fund, set up by Julie Barkel, who decided the family could wait no longer, is aiming to raise £100,000 to buy them a home of their own. Julie Barkel said: “It got to the point that enough was enough and I decided to set up the crowdfunding page.”

“The building the family live in has temperamental lifts which have been out of order six times already this year. These can take 2-3 days to fix so this leaves Baxter’s mum, either stuck at the top or the bottom of the building with no way of getting Baxter out, or home. In case of emergency, or a fire, this could be life threatening as Baxter could require emergency surgery at the drop of a hat due to one of his conditions.”

She said: “I contacted some of my favourite authors and Chris came back happy to help us and also donated a character. I have the auction all set up ready to go live tomorrow at noon and the winning bidder will become a character in Chris’ next Jack Parlabane novel – due for release January 2016. Myself and Baxter’s mum, Ailsa, attended Chris’ culture café at the Music Hall in Aberdeen on Wednesday and wee Baxter came along and got to meet him.”

When Stuart MacBride participated in the first literary auction in aid of the family he said: “Every year I donate a couple of characters to various charities to auction or raffle off. This time around I was approached by a friend of Baxter’s mum and asked if I could help spread the word about their fundraising.”

The author said that by auctioning off the right to appear in his next novel, it would not only raise money “but also encourage others to chip in a bit to help Baxter out.”

He added: “I’m not sure what part the auction winner is going to play in the next book, but it’ll be fun finding out.”

A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the family’s housing needs and continue to work with them to try to resolve their accommodation issues.”

The Chris Brookmyre auction will go live on Friday at 12 noon at crowdfunder.co.uk/help-baxter

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Christopher Brookymire on writing a sci-fi novel

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